How to get ahead for Christmas | Features | Jamie Oliver (2024)

Christmas cooking can be a bit daunting. The pressure to make it good, make it tasty, and make it work – without breaking the bank – is big! Luckily, getting organised and planning ahead can help to minimise some of the stress and help to spread the cost, too.

Sorting out what you’re going to cook and when, and then prepping the dishes in advance, is the secret to Christmas Day success. For starters, a little housekeeping goes a long way. In the month before Christmas, do a freezer audit –have you got odds and ends you can use up to maximise the space you have? In the days before Christmas Eve, take a good hard look at your fridge. You’re going to need loads of space come the 24th for all your pre-prepped trays and puds. What can you use up now to clear some room, and what can you transfer to the freezer to use later?

Getting ahead with a few key dishes will save you time and reduce stress on The Big Day. So once you’ve got your freezer and fridge in order, start prepping these festive favourites, and you’ll impress your nearest and dearest without (too) much trouble at all.

On the hunt for clever ways to keep costs down in the kitchen? Check out our top budget-friendly tips for cooking at Christmas


Christmas pudding

Stir-up Sunday is all about getting ahead – this lovely tradition dictates that this is THE day to make your Christmas pudding. This year, it fell on 20 November 2022, but if you missed it, there’s still plenty of time for the flavours to mature in time for Christmas Day. Rustle up this impressive-looking pud, based on Jamie’s Nan’s recipe.

Mellow mincemeat

Make a batch of mincemeat with this super-easy recipe and pop into sterilised jars, ready to turn into glorious mince pies come December. After all, nothing says Christmas like mince pies! And if you’ve got some mincemeat left over, why not go full Pinterest, decorate the jars, and give them as delicious handmade gifts?


Get-ahead gravy

Gravy can make or break Christmas dinner – and a good one can hide a multitude of sins! So make Jamie’s favourite, delicious Get-Ahead Gravy now, then pop it in the freezer, ready to reheat on The Big Day. Your Christmas Day self will thank you for it. Sounds good? Find out more about this iconic gravy here.

Classic mince pies

The flavour of the festive season – and perfect for an impromptu pudding and afternoon treat. This gorgeous version uses butternut squash, maple syrup and almonds to take a jar of mincemeat to the next level. The beauty of these mince pies is that you can freeze them, then bake from frozen. So easy!

My Christmas cake

It’s not too late to make your Christmas cake – so give it a go, if you haven’t already. Jamie’s recipe is lighter than most, and perfect with a cup of tea (or a glass of your favourite festive tipple). Feed it with a little booze a couple of times, and it’ll turn out to be a real treat.



This Italian classic (literally ‘pick-me-up’ in English) makes the perfect post-Christmas dinner dessert for anyone who may be feeling a bit too full for a proper pud!Vin Santo-soaked sponge spiked with coffee, rich chocolate ganache and smooth cream, finished with grated chocolate and orange – what’s not to love? Freeze now, ready to defrost in your fridge on Christmas Eve.

Sloe gin gravlax

Start curing this beautiful gravadlax a few days before Christmas, then finish off on Christmas Eve. Serve up this magnificent Christmas starter with buttered sourdough, cucumber rounds, sour cream and lemon wedges for squeezing over – it’s a beautifully light, fresh way to begin what can sometimes be a rather heavy meal!

Amazing Yorkies

There’s always someone who won’t be happy unless their turkey comes with a Yorkshire! For perfectly fluffy puds for your festive feast, make the batter now, freeze it, then defrost in the fridge on Christmas Eve. Whip them up without the fuss on Christmas and watch the brownie points roll in. You’re welcome.

Pigs in blankets

Pigs in blankets are an absolute Christmas dinner essential for many people. Make them now, freeze them, then simply roast from frozen on the day – talk about a festive dinner winner! They’re also a brilliant addition to a buffet spread or great as a festive nibble, so think about making an even bigger batch.


Meat stuffing

Make this delicious stuffing the day before, pack it into its baking dish, then cover with tin foil and pop in the fridge, ready to cook tomorrow while the turkey rests. The principle’s the same if you cook up this gorgeous veggie version or this , too.


Getting these prepped and lined up in a tray on Christmas Eve will make Christmas morning so much more enjoyable. Get your potatoes, carrots, parsnips, red cabbage and Brussels ready, then simply cover with foil and pop in the fridge, ready to cook tomorrow. And while you’re at it, prep your turkey too.

Whether you use fresh or frozen cranberries, this easy recipe makes the most flavourful sauce –you’ll never go back to shop-bought again. It’s also great to pop in sterilised jars and give as last-minute gifts. Make it now, then leave it in the fridge until tomorrow.

Beautiful bread sauce

It just wouldn’t be Christmas without a spot of bread sauce on your turkey. Plus, it’s so simple to make, it would be rude not to! Make now, adding a little extra milk as it will thicken overnight, leave to cool and store in the fridge, ready to reheat.

Incredible nut roast

Veggie or not, this colourful nut roast with mushrooms and cranberry is amazing. Served up in a spicy tomato sauce, it makes for a delicious main course. Cook it the day before (to save oven space tomorrow), pop it in the fridge once it’s cool, then reheat under foil on Christmas Day while the turkey rests.

Mrs Oliver's massive retro trifle

A beautifully fruity trifle is all the better for making it the day before – the alcohol has time to soak in, and the layers have time to settle. And this recipe is Jamie’s mum’s pride and joy, so you’re guaranteed a Christmas Day winner.

Then if you need a little help with the cooking times on Christmas Day, follow Jamie’s masterplan! Then sit back and enjoy your delicious lunch with your loved ones… Happy Christmas!

How to safely freeze your food

Remember to let food cool thoroughly before freezing – and get it into the freezer within 2 hours. Make sure everything is well wrapped, and labelled for future reference. Thaw in the fridge before use (unless the recipe says you can cook from frozen), and use within 48 hours. If you’ve frozen cooked food, don’t freeze it again after reheating it.

How to get ahead for Christmas | Features | Jamie Oliver (2024)
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